“Most people assume the relationship between effort and reward is one-to-one. We think that working twice as long will produce twice the results. That caring about a relationship twice as much will make everyone feel twice as loved. That yelling your point twice as loud will make you twice as right… this is almost never true.” -Mark Manson

Many people have the wrong idea about what it takes to achieve the things they in want in life. They’re thinking in terms of ‘more.’

More readers needs more writing. More happiness needs more possessions. More weight loss needs more exercise.

Usually, all this just leads to a bunch huffing and puffing and never really getting anywhere.

But what if there was another way?

What if less meant more?

Let’s see.

You’ll Never Make Substantial Progress If Your Life is Out of Alignment

“The fastest way to move forward in life is not doing more. It starts with stopping the behaviors holding you back.” -Benjamin P. Hardy

Most people never take the time to align every area of their life with the life they want. Instead, they jump into new goals thinking they can make progress simply by focusing on one area.

What they fail to understand, is it that every aspect of your life affects every other aspect of your life. If there’s a discrepancy in any area, there’s a discrepancy in every area and you won’t be going anywhere fast.

Let’s say, for example, you want to lose weight, going to gym 6 times a week will do very little if your diet is still full of sugar and junk food.

Likewise, adding an additional stream of income won’t improve your finances if you don’t first create a budget and cut out excessive spending habits.

In this way, less is more.

Instead of thinking, “what have I got to do more of to achieve the things I want?” Think, “what have I got to do less of to achieve the things I want?”

Because without the removal of negative behaviors before the addition of positive ones, you’ll always be taking one step forward followed by one step backward and using untold amounts of effort on getting nowhere.

What You Achieve Is a Result of the Quality of Your Time, Not The quantity

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” -Arianna Huffington

It is not a matter of how much time you put in. But how you use the time you put in. There is a big difference between 6 hours of distracted and disconnected work versus 1 hour of distraction-Less and deeply focused work.

One produces mediocre results, while the other produces extraordinary results.

Some might say this is incorrect. A phrase we often hear is, “quantity produces quality” but this statement is only half true.

You can repeat something for years and still be terrible at it. In fact, I know many people who have repeated college papers 3–4 times because they were never actually learning.

And without learning, you’re not growing, and thus the results will never change.

Improvement requires what Anders Ericsson has coined as “purposeful practice,”

“Purposeful practice in a nutshell: Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress.”

Without purposeful practice, quantity does not produce quality, but rather just a larger quantity of the same results.

You can achieve a whole more in less time simply by focusing on the quality of your output rather than the duration of your input.

In Conclusion

The relationship between effort and reward is not one-to-one.

Most people will continue to spend endless amounts of effort on trying to achieve more, but without the subtraction of negative behaviors, will always be taking one step forward followed by one step backward.

Simply by being deliberate and purposeful in what you do with your working time, you can achieve a whole more in less time.